YouCam Strikes Deals With Ulta, Cosmo

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY ADRI­ANA LEE

YouCam app maker Per­fect Corp. teams with the beauty giant on AI and AR try-on shop­ping fea­tures.

YouCam app maker Per­fect Corp. is join­ing forces with Ulta Beauty and Cos­mopoli­tan mag­a­zine on up­com­ing on­line and in-store roll- outs of the for­mer’s lat­est ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and aug­mented re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy fea­tures, ex­ec­u­tives dis­closed at CES in Las Ve­gas on Wed­nes­day.

“Our part­ner­ship with YouCam will give us in­sight about how aug­mented re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ences can com­ple­ment the ser­vices we of­fer in Ulta Beauty stores,” said Prama Bhatt, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of dig­i­tal and e-com­merce at Ulta Beauty. “This rep­re­sents a nice merg­ing of phys­i­cal, dig­i­tal and emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ences — es­pe­cially the abil­ity for a guest to vir­tu­ally try on hair color, with an Ulta Beauty stylist, as part of their in-store salon ser­vice.”

Per­fect Corp. al­ready pow­ers beauty anal­y­sis and vir­tual try- on tools for part­ners like Tar­get and May­belline, em­bed­ding its tools in their apps, e-com­merce sites and even ter­mi­nals at phys­i­cal re­tail. Its Web API, for in­stance, en­ables brands and re­tail­ers to of­fer the tools on their own web sites. Other part­ner­ships bring a breadth of brands to its own YouCam makeup apps, which boast more than 700 mil­lion down­loads.

Now it’s tak­ing to CES to high­light Beauty 3.0, its ap­proach to aug­mented re­al­ity and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. At its essence, the tech al­lows users to vir­tu­ally try on dif­fer­ent makeup looks, hair col­ors and foun­da­tion shades, a con­cept the com­pany in­tro­duced to the tech sec­tor at last year’s edi­tion of the trade show.

For the 2019 event, the beauty tech com­pany pro­moted its next evo­lu­tion, a set of up­dates that uses AI to of­fer more op­tions and per­son­al­iza­tion — in­clud­ing om­bre and mul­ti­color ap­pli­ca­tions for its re­al­is­tic AI Live Hair Color vir­tual try-on fea­ture, cos­met­ics recog­ni­tion based on mag­a­zine pho­tos or even can­did shots of peo­ple taken on the fly and a smart tool that can match skin tone to foun­da­tion.

Cos­mopoli­tan read­ers will be able to snap a shot of an ad or ed­i­to­rial photo, in­stantly see the prod­ucts the model or sub­ject used, and dig­i­tally try on the looks or buy them.

“My goal is to deepen the con­nec­tion be­tween Cosmo and its read­ers by con­stantly mak­ing our con­tent more sort of func­tion­al­ity be­fore. But un­like pre­vi­ous at­tempts, Per­fect Corp. says its recog­ni­tion tool doesn’t re­quire a QR code or other work­around to iden­tify the looks. And, it prom­ises, the fea­ture works for both mag­a­zine pho­tos and smart­phone pics.

“Peo­ple were like, ‘I see this thing on In­sta­gram or Face­book,’ or ‘I’m on the sub­way, and there’s some­one who has an amaz­ing look’,” said Adam Gam, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing at Per­fect Corp. “So, let’s say you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, I love her look — I want it,’ right? And you snapped a pic­ture of it...So then it’s us­ing ma­chine learn­ing, and the com­puter is able to de­tect it.”

Put an­other way, the com­pany’s com­puter vi­sion prom­ises on-the-fly recog­ni­tion and rec­om­men­da­tions, with no ad­vance prepa­ra­tion. It also lets con­sumers ap­ply those looks to their own faces.

“The cool thing is that you can get prod­uct in­for­ma­tion — What was the lip? What was the eye shadow? — and it gives you that abil­ity to now trans­fer some­one’s look and get the prod­uct on you,” Gam ex­plained.

Lips and eyes tend to be fo­cal points adorned in dis­tinct col­ors. But the sub­tlety of skin tones are an­other mat­ter. The com­pany’s ef­forts to crack that chal­lenge has led to a new skin di­ag­nos­tic tool that uses ma­chine learn­ing to zero in on prob­lem ar­eas and of­fer prod­uct matches.

The skin anal­y­sis fea­ture iden­ti­fies wrin­kles, spots, dark cir­cles and other is­sues, es­ti­mates de­tails like the user’s age and mood, and rec­om­mends cos­met­ics based on the anal­y­sis. It also pro­vides a live split screen, for a side-by-side com­par­i­son of the cus­tomer’s face with and with­out the rec­om­mended prod­ucts.

Skin tech ap­pears to be a ma­jor theme at this year’s CES, with new ef­forts from a num­ber of com­pa­nies — every­one from start-ups to gi­ants like Proc­ter & Gam­ble and L’Oréal, which also owns beauty AR com­peti­tor ModiFace — lean­ing into the cat­e­gory.

If CES is a sneak peek of the in­no­va­tions to come, then it ap­pears 2019 is set­ting up for an all- out Face Race.

Beauty 3.0’s AI fea­ture of­fers prod­uct recog­ni­tion and rec­om­men­da­tions.

The skin anal­y­sis tool can iden­tify is­sues likewrin­kles or spots, rec­om­mend cos­met­ics to ad­dress them and show a side-by-side com­par­i­son of what the user looks like withand with­out the prod­ucts ap­plied.

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